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Go Back to the Source

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"Go back! To the first room! He'll show you... the Source!"
6, 9

A situation in which a character (usually the MacGuffin of the plotline) must return to the place where they or an important plot device originated from. This can involve taking the character back to where they came from, or going to the literal source of something, such as the place where an object of power was created.

Related to Now Do It Again, Backwards (Wanna destroy something? Then go back to where it was created), Bookends, and It Was with You All Along. If it involves time travel, then it's Back to the Early Installment. Also a supertrope to Where It All Began.


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  • Digimon: The Movie involves Kokomon repeatedly telling Willis to "go back to the beginning", which Willis and the others try to figure out the meaning of.
  • Pokémon:
  • In the Soul Eater manga, Maka eventually finds Crona in the chuch where they first met.
  • In Attack on Titan, the major goal of the series is to return to the ruins of Eren's home and find out what his father hid in the basement.
  • The Grand Finale of Ranma ½ requires the cast not just to return to Jusenkyo, the origin of their curses, to prevent it from being drained, but to find Jusendo, the underground wellspring of the cursed pools.

    Fan Works 
  • The Desert Storm: The Mirage arc deals with Ben's decision to tell Obi-Wan the truth about himself (namely that he's actually an older version of Obi-Wan from the future). To prepare for this, Ben brings Obi-Wan to Tatooine, the place where it all began. It's the first planet introduced in the series and was where Ben had been hiding out for four years following the end of the Clone Wars in his timeline. It was also on Tatooine that Ben encountered the Force entity that brought him twenty-three years into the past to begin with.
  • This trope is a necessary to become a true Concept in the Pony POV Series. While not necessary to becoming an Alicorn, taking the next step requires returning to Fauna Luster, the Mother of All Things. Fauna Luster's title is Not Hyperbole: she's literally the mother of every living thing that exists as all souls come from her. It's unknown if Draconequi works the same way as mortals ascending to become them are nigh nonexistent.

    Film — Animated 
  • The film 9, the Trope Namer, involves 9 needing to go back to the room where he and the other stitchpunks were created in order to stop the Fabrication Machine. The talisman that allowed them to be created is most commonly termed "the Source" by the fanbase, as it did transfer the stitchpunks' souls into their bodies. Though in the movie, 6 was implied to actually be referring to the scientist who used the talisman to create them...
  • Moses in The Prince of Egypt must returns to Egypt in order to free his people at the end of the first half of the film.
  • The Lion King (1994): Simba returns to his home of Pride Rock in order to dethrone Scar and claim his place as king.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Lord of the Rings — see the Literature section for details.
  • The Matrix: "Returning to The Source" are Arc Words about returning to the heart of the Matrix's mainframe, where everything originated and hitting a Reset Button (or something like that).
  • Luke Skywalker has to return to Tatooine in Return of the Jedi to save Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt.
  • In Transformers (2007), the All Spark is the artifact which gave the Transformers life, which both Bumblebee of the Autobots and Megatron of the Decepticons encounter again after millennia of separation.
  • In The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne returns to the original Treadstone location, where he was tortured and brainwashed from David Webb into a Treadstone agent.

  • Haroun and the Sea Of Stories: Haroun and his friends on the moon of Kahani must go to the place in the Sea of Stories where all the stories originate, in order to stop Khattam-Shud from plugging it and corrupting all the stories with his "anti-stories". This part of the Sea of Stories, the Wellspring, is also appropriately called "the Source".
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: At the end of the book, Harry invokes this trope outright:
    "I thought I might go back to Godric's Hollow... For me, it started there, all of it. I've just got a feeling I need to go there."
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Hermione proposes an actual reason for going to Godric's Hollow. All is ultimately subverted when nothing beneficial happens there. They don't find any of the unknown horcruxes, they don't find any information on the Deathly Hallows, Harry is nearly killed by Voldemort's snake, his wand is broken when he's rescued, and he later laments that he didn't even get a chance to kill the snake while he was at it (the snake being a horcrux).
  • The Lord of the Rings: Frodo must take the One Ring to its place of creation, Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, in order to destroy it and rid the world of its evil power.
  • The Aeneid: Aeneas and his crew set sail to Italy, which the gods inform them is where the Trojan race originated.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Good Luck Charlie/Jessie crossover "Good Luck Jessie: NYC Christmas", Jessie, the Rosses and Duncans find their presents in the same place Jessie hid them: The lockers by the Central Park ice rink.
  • In the series finale of Lost, Desmond - and later, Jack - return to the cave that was first seen in the earliest part of the series timeline. Inside is the source of life, death and rebirth; fans quickly dubbed it "the Source". This is probably directly inspired by Haroun and the Sea Of Stories, which Desmond was reading while sitting next to Jack on the plane in the season premiere. The site also happens to be right next to the bamboo grove where the series's first scene took place.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Remember Me" has a twofer. To retrieve the missing Dr Crusher, the Enterprise has to return to the point in space where she disappeared (Starbase 133), while Dr Crusher in her alternate reality has to return to Engineering, where her trouble began.


  • In LEGO Exo-Force, the unfinished third season took place in a jungle at the bottom of Sentai Mountain, where Big Bad Meca One was created in a laboratory.

    Video Games 
  • EarthBound (1994): Ness and the others must fight Giygas at its weakest point in time, which is when it was first created.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Link has to return the Master Sword to its pedestal in order to gain access to the Temple of Time.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the first temple you must visit is the one in the Kokiri Forest, where you start the game.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, whenever you play the Song of Time, you find yourself back at the same place in the center of Clock Town, where your adventure starts. When you get all four of the boss' remains, you must return to that same place (albeit at the top of the tower instead of the base) and summon the giants to stop the moon from falling.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy: The Four Fiends were sealed in the Temple of Chaos. From there, they summoned Garland, transformed him into Chaos, and had him send them into the future to overrun the world. The Light Warriors must then travel back in time to the Temple to prevent this Time Loop.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The final dungeon is the Lunar Core, where the Lunarians sleep, and from which KluYa, Cecil and Golbez' father, comes.
    • Final Fantasy IX: The party's last voyage is into Memoria, an illusory world created by the memory of the planets Gaia and Terra...and then into the Crystal World, where the wellspring of life itself resides.
  • In Halo 3, the humans and Elites must travel to the Ark, where the titular Halos were constructed, to find the "solution" to the Flood. Turns out, the solution is a brand new MacGuffin it just coughed up.
  • The Myst series has this as a recurring theme, related to its use of Hub Levels. Often you'll encounter something early in the game that you won't fully understand the importance of until the end, when you need to use it.
    • The first game has you, after going to all the worlds and finding all the pages, go back to the location you started at, specifically, the dock marker switch so you can retrieve the final page and complete the game.
    • Its sequel Riven has a telescope as the first thing you see when entering the world. After finding the code to open the hatch, you end the game (albeit with many possible endings) by lowering said telescope to crack the glass under said hatch and reopen the star fissure to signal Atrus.
    • In Myst III: Exile, getting back to the relative safety of Tomahna is the goal of the game.
    • Uru: Ages Beyond Myst has you collect four totems that represent the pieces of a captive's soul; then you have to go back to where you found them to free the soul. At the end, you are sent back to the first zone in the game, the Cleft, to receive your reward.
    • The expansion of Uru, The Path of the Shell, has you exploring new areas in order to highlight sections of a holy text which provide hints that finally allow you to solve the first puzzle you encounter in the expansion.
    • Myst V: End of Ages has a Hub Level which is also where you receive the MacGuffin after solving its subordinate levels. There's also a bit of a subversion: Once you get the MacGuffin, you have several choices of what to do with it. One is to bring it to Myst island, which seems appropriate as that's where the series began; however, doing this will result in a bad ending.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the final sector, Horologium, is essentially primeval Earth, and the home of the great mother of all life on the planet.
  • Ōkami: The end of the game has Amaterasu confront the ultimate darkness at the Ark of Yamato, the vessel from which all monsters arrived from the Celestial Realm.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the portal that leads to the Big Bad's fortress is revealed to be hidden in the room where The Nameless One woke up in at the beginning of the game.
  • Ripper plays this trope by name near the end. The Ripper tells you to open a book in the Virtual Library that you picked up around the start of the game. Up until that point, it served no purpose. However, it's also foreshadowed in that your girlfriend, Catherine, was lured into doing the same thing and ended up in a coma.
    Ripper: Return to where you began, the library, the Ripper book! Remove it from the shelf, and...dig in! *evil chuckle*
  • Almost the exact same phrasing is used in Guild Wars 2, when Trahearne is only able to purify Orr of Zhaitan's corruption by journeying to the heart of its waterways, which is also where the Six Gods first stepped into Tyria. Zhaitan itself is defeated in Arah, the seat of the first human kingdom.
  • In Chapter 4 of Resident Evil 5, while exploring an ancient African ruin, Chris Redfield stumbles upon a long-abandoned dig site with decades-old equipment belonging to the Umbrella Corporation. It turns out this dig site is where the founders of Umbrella discovered the Progenitor Virus, which would be the basis which they derived all their viral research from: specifically, the virus was originally from a rare flower that grew only in the Kijuju area. It was a rite of passage for ancient kings to ingest the flower and survive days of torment: if they did, they were fit to take the throne.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Khasra III enters the cursed celestial city of Xar Daeon to purify it from the taint of darkness, which helps him weaken demons' regenerative powers because the city's powers were directly linked to demons. The heroes of the Grand Alliance are given the task of locating the source of the Blood Fever in order to purify the source and thus put an end to the spread of the deadly fever.
  • Channel Awesome: In Suburban Knights, Malachite's Hand is hidden in the same place the quest started from.
  • In Homestuck, John goes back in time to various events in Terezi's life in order to fix the timeline.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang and Zuko go to the ruins of the Sun Warrior civilization to learn the original style of firebending, instead of the corrupted modern version.
  • In Ben 10 the Omnitrix must occasionally return to the artificial planet Primus, where all the alien DNA it collects is recorded.
  • In the Fanboy and Chum Chum special "Brain Freeze", FB and CC lose their trademark underwear outside their clothes after having a Hangover-induced night from getting high on drinking the pink Frosty Freezy Freeze. The underwear is found in the Frosty Freezy Freeze machine, the same place where they learned the pink flavor had been replaced with Radioactive Red the day before.
  • I ♡ Arlo: In the Season 1 finale "The Uncondemning", Arlo returns to his adoptive home in the Louisiana swamp to rescue Edmée from the clutches of the villainous Bog Lady, who vowed revenge on him leaving the swamp in the first place.
  • The Lion Guard: In "Battle for the Pride Lands", the Lion Guard fights Scar for the last time in the same volcano crater where he was summoned.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • In "The Return of Harmony, Part 1", Discord steals the Elements of Harmony and presents the Mane Six a riddle to find them again: "Twists and turns are my master plan / Then find the Elements back where you began". After an episode-long wild goose chase, the heroes realize in "Part 2" that the "back where you began" part referred to the book where they first learned about the Elements of Harmony in the first episode (i.e., where their journey began), which is where the Elements are kept.
    • A more villainous example occurs in Part 1 of "The Beginning of the End". King Sombra seizes control of the Crystal Empire and the Mane Six arrive to use the Elements of Harmony to defeat him; once they return the Elements back to the Tree of Harmony, it is revealed Sombra only faked his defeat so he could follow the girls back to the source of their power, and uses his crystals to destroy the Tree and the Elements.
  • Tangled: The Series:
    • In the first season finale "Secret of the Sundrop", Rapunzel saves her mother and fights Varian in the same place where she first met him and tried to get answers about her hair: At his cottage in Old Corona.
    • In the Grand Finale, Zhan Tiri is fought by Rapunzel and Cassandra in Corona Castle, Rapunzel's birth home and the place where it all started.
  • Winx Club:
    • In the first season finale, the Trix are fought at Alfea, the same place where Bloom began her journey to discovering her life as a fairy.
    • In the third season finale, the Winx go to the Omega Dimension, which is where Valtor was discovered, so Bloom can fight him and destroy him with her Dragon Flame.
    • Midway through the fifth season, the Winx have to find the Source of Sirenix to officially complete the Sirenix Quest and win the transformation; the Source is found in the same place where the Winx's quest began: Lake Roccaluce.

    Real Life 
  • Several animals, such the Alaskan Salmon, travel back to their place of birth to spawn.
  • Scientists try to create particles that existed during the Big Bang, which is believed to be the event of the origin of the Universe.
  • There's a Latin phrase called "ad fontes" that translates to "go back to the source". In the humanities, it is the studying of different writings from different eras and comparing them to not only note any differences but also see how much civilization (philsophy, socially, civilly, it's a broad spectrum) has advanced.
  • If you live in a developed country, then it's likely that you were born in a hospital, and are going to die there.
  • In the computer programming business, there's a saying current since about 1978: "Use the Source!".
  • Justin Trudeau was born during his father Pierre's time as Prime Minister of Canada, spending his early childhood living at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, the PM's official residence. So, when he himself became PM in 2015, moving into 24 Sussex was effectively returning to his childhood home.


Video Example(s):


Where our quest began...

Upon realizing the answer to the final riddle, the Winx discover the Source of Sirenix is in Lake Roccaluce, the same place where the Sirenix Quest began.

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